How much do you know about your anatomy? If you’ve never heard of fascia, you’re not alone!
When we’re kids, we learn all the body parts we can see (nose, ears, eyes, elbows, knees, toes). In grade school, we start to learn about what’s under our skin (organs, bones, muscles). When we’re in high school biology, we get down to the cellular and molecular level.
The one aspect of our bodies that always seems to be missed is one of the most important for our day to day activities: fascia.
What is Fascia?
The term “fascia” comes from a Latin word that means “band.” Fascia is often described as smooth bands or sheets of connective tissue that cover, enclose, and link with your muscles, organs, and other systems. All of these bands are tightly woven together in a “sheath” that covers you from head to toe, and this overall structure is called fascia.
Fascia is often described as a sweater because of how all the different bands are interwoven to cover the body. It can also be described as a spider web or the sheaths that cover and connect individual wedges in an orange. All of these metaphors fall a little short of explaining fascia fully because it’s so wonderfully complex, but they work perfectly fine for a basic overview of fascia.
One of the best ways to describe fascia is as the body’s “armour.” This describes what it looks like, but also how it functions to protect the body. For example, when the nerves running through the fascia sense impact, they tighten the fascia to help absorb the shock. While this is a protective response, chronically tight fascia causes inflammatory responses and can even cause tension and trigger points in the muscles. When the different parts of your fascia begin to tighten, the smooth bands stop sliding over each other easily and cause pain.
Why is Fascia Important to Your Health?
Fascia is becoming a more important discussion point for massage therapists and clients alike. As we learn more about how the body’s systems work together, we can see how the health of fascia contributes to overall well-being.
Healthy fascia is:
Meanwhile, unhealthy fascia:
- Is tight
- Has adhesions or is “sticky”
Unhealthy fascia in one area of the body can also impact other fascia or systems. You can think of this like a loose thread in a sweater. If you were to pull on it, you’d likely see wrinkling or pulling in another area of the sweater. This is one of the best reasons to take preventative action when it comes to maintaining the health of your fascia; it can help you avoid a lot of therapy and treatment down the road. Find more information about preventative at-home activities for fascial health below.
How Fascial Injuries & Tension Can Impact Your Life
Many people suffering from mobility issues or pain have had damage to their fascia. In some cases, fascial injuries, tension, or adhesions can be acute and are easily treated in a single therapy session. However, other types of fascial damage can be more pervasive and require ongoing treatment and healing.
There are several ways your fascia can become damaged, including:
- Trauma or injury
- Inflammatory responses
- Chronic stress
- Repetitive movements
- Poor posture
- Muscle injuries
- Dehydration and lifestyle choices
Despite all these risks, fascia has incredible healing properties. There are a few ways you can promote release and healing in your fascia at home or with a Registered Massage Therapist.
Taking Care of Your Fascia at Home
A Yoga or Stretching Routine
One of the most effective ways to promote health and healing in your fascia is by maintaining a daily stretching routine. Stretching helps elongate the bands of your fascia and release tension. Yoga offers similar benefits for your fascia (as well as many other benefits for your body and health!) Both of these activities can also help improve your posture, which in turn promotes healthy fascia.
Drinking Plenty of Water
Dehydration can seriously impact the condition of your fascia on a daily basis. Keeping hydrated throughout the day makes a big difference. To help you remember to drink water, buy a great water bottle and carry it with you everywhere you go! Also, remember to give your body the nutrients, sleep, and fresh air it needs – all of this helps keep your fascia relaxed and healthy.
After a tough day or lengthy workout, head to an infrared sauna to boost your recovery. Studies show that infrared saunas help the “neuromuscular system to recover from maximal endurance performance.” That means your muscles and fascia can release and restore so you get the benefits of a workout without all the post-workout tension.
How Massage & Other Modalities Work with the Fascia
Virtually any type of massage therapy releases tension in the fascia and underlying muscles. It can also improve circulation, which provides more blood flow and better healing to injured areas of the fascia. If you’ve been experiencing unusual or persistent muscle tension or you’re having trouble healing from an injury or surgery, be sure to let your professional massage therapist know when you book or come in for your massage appointment.
Fascial Stretch Therapy
Fascial stretch therapy is a form of therapist-assisted stretching designed to help loosen and restore the muscles, ligaments, joints, and connective tissue of the body. Most people who have regular sessions feel a major increase in their range of motion.
Myofascial release works directly on fascial restrictions. Using gentle, but sustained pressure, your therapist can restore smooth, flowing motion to the fascia, eliminating pain and restoring a full range of motion.
Although similar to traditional methods of cupping, myofascial cupping allows for movement of the cups while they are suctioned to the skin. This allows the therapist to remove adhesions in specific areas of the fascia and reduce muscle trigger points that are the cause or effect of those adhesions.
Fascial Treatments in St. Albert
If you’re looking for cupping, massage therapy, fascial release or fascial stretch therapy in St. Albert, reach out to our Registered Massage Therapists today to book an appointment. Our team is highly trained in recognizing and treating fascia tension & injuries.